Made in America: Obama Administration further eases Cuba trade, financial restrictions

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 106 views 

Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Made In America,” a round-up of state and global manufacturing news.

ORGANIZED LABOR HOLDS STEADY AT 14.8 MILLION MEMBERS IN 2015: The nation’s union membership rate – the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions — remained at 11.1% percent in 2015, unchanged from 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a recent report. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2015, was little different from 2014. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1%, and there were 17.7 million union workers.

Overall, public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.2%) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7%). Workers in protective service occupations and in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rates (36.3% and 35.5%), respectively. To see the complete report, click here.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FURTHER EASES CUBA TRADE, FINANCIAL RESTRICTIONS: The U.S. Commerce and Treasury departments have announced new amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), respectively. These amendments further implement the new direction toward Cuba that President Obama laid out in December 2014. The changes took effect on Jan. 27, 2016, when the regulations were published in the Federal Register.

Among other things, these amendments will remove existing restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized exports and re-exports to Cuba of items other than agricultural items or commodities. They will also authorize additional transactions related to professional meetings and other events, disaster preparedness and informational materials, including transactions incident to professional media or artistic productions in Cuba.

NUCOR REPORTS 4Q LOSS, BUT SEES DOMESTIC STEEL MARKET IMPROVING IN 2016: Charlotte, N.C.-based steel giant Nucor Inc., which operates or has ownership stakes in three steel mills in northeast Arkansas, reported a net loss for the fourth quarter of $62.0 million on revenue of $3.4 billion. That compares with year ago profits of $210.4 million on revenue of $5 billion. For the full year, Nucor showed earnings of $357.7 million on sales of $16.4 billion, compared to year ago earnings and revenue of $713.9 million and $21.1 billion, respectively.

Nucor officials said operating performance at the steel mills segment in the fourth quarter of 2015 decreased from the third quarter of 2015 due to lower average selling prices and decreased volumes. The North Carolina steelmaker said anti-dumping remedies to halt the global excess steel capacity should have a positive impact on domestic sheet mills in the first half of 2016.